The Teen App Store: Creating a Digital Landscape for Teens
By Shubhangi Shah
“My background in education and working closely with teenagers has taught me that they struggle to find acceptance in the digital landscape despite their digital background,” says Saurabh Saxena, Founder and CEO from Uable, a social media app for teens. . “Teenagers spend a lot of time on Instagram and the Snapchats of the world and end up consuming information that isn’t always relevant or useful to them,” he says of what prompted him to start a platform.
for 13-19 year olds. Saxena’s previous stint was with ed-tech platform Vedantu, which he co-founded in 2014.
At first glance, a teen app looks interesting but tricky at the same time. After all, what can Uable offer that Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube can’t? In response to this, says the platform’s founder, Uable provides a “space exclusively for teens to connect with like-minded peers and creators, explore their passions, interests through safe communities, and build their profile”. The platform also allows users to join clubs based on their interests and hang out on chat servers similar to Discord. The app also has a built-in social currency called U-coins, which is given as a reward for high engagement. It can be used to unlock premium content and experiences, the creator explains. Uable is also ad-free. Yes, each age group has specific demands and expectations regarding their digital experience. This is particularly the case for teenagers, who are considered to be among the most digitally savvy. The two years of the pandemic, when everything was shut down and schools moved online, also added to that. Therefore, apps aimed specifically at teens don’t seem like overkill.
The founder of Uable is also the co-creator of Vedantu, an ed-tech platform. Although several such platforms have sprung up in recent years, Khan Academy remains the OG. Launched by Salman Khan, not the actor, in 2008, it also has an app. If you are a teenage student or a parent looking for ways to improve your child’s lessons, the Khan Academy app is something you can consider. As a student, you may spend some time studying on your own. And sometimes, you surely stumble over questions. Without help near you, the question could stay on the back burner, only to be forgotten and reappear on an exam like a nightmare or cause you problems to continue your lesson. The next time you encounter such a problem, look no further than your smartphone and head to an app called FILO. Click on your query photo or tap it on the app, which claims to connect with a tutor within 60 seconds. Its services are currently available for students in grades 8 to 12.
Every age is the right age to learn new skills. However, it can be especially fruitful during your teenage years, as it can help you get to know your interests and skills.
Learning new languages helps you connect with people across borders, read literature from distant lands, and improve your employability. If you are looking for digital options, the Duolingo app offers lessons in several languages in the form of small lessons to practice on a daily basis. If you are planning to get creative, Skillshare is an app you can consider. The platform offers content on several creative disciplines such as painting, photography, etc. Then there are individual apps that cater to specific skills. Yes, the Internet has somewhat democratized information and learning. What was once held by a few is now within the reach of many.
What about user security?
There is an additional threat to user privacy and security especially on social media platforms which are used by many people. Whether it’s an app specifically aimed at teens or one that covers all age groups, issues like fake news, phishing, cyberbullying, and abuse are rampant. On how Uable plans to tackle this, given that teens are a vulnerable group, Saxena says, “We keep our teen users safe by filtering harmful, abusive, and disturbing content from the platform.” This, he says, is done in moderation on many levels. The app uses AI (artificial intelligence) moderation tools to prevent users from sharing unwanted posts. Explaining further, he says, “Each club in the app has a team of teen moderators. They check whether anything shared within a club is relevant and appropriate for the club. They also have the power to remove posts or ban users from the club. Apart from this, users can flag content, which is reviewed and then removed if deemed inappropriate.
Each platform has its set of rules and regulations to keep users safe. But when browsing online, your teen may need extra security. Yes, as a parent you should do everything for your child’s digital independence, but if you are concerned about their safety, you can consider some parental control apps.
Canopy is one such app that can protect your teen from exposure to explicit content and inappropriate messages. You can also block access to certain applications that you consider inappropriate. Qustodio is another such app that you can explore.